How do you pay for a car with cash?

I am buying myself a new Beetle this weekend, assuming it arrives at the dealership this week. I plan to pay for it outright, without financing. How does that work? Will a personal check be okay, or will I have to get a cashier’s check?

Pennies. :smiley: Wouldn’t that be cool?

I’d call ahead and ask for the total with tax, tags, etc and bring a cashier’s check. You’d hate to be held up because they wanted to wait for your check to clear.


I’ve bought new cars for cash before. IME, the dealership prefers a cashier’s cheque, certifying that the funds are on deposit and available to the payee.

Years ago, when cars cost much less, I recall hearing stories of people who brought in actual cash. I even knew some who bought their cars this way. But I would imagine that with cars costing much more nowadays, the impracticality of carrying (for example) $20,000 or more to be counted in the dealership–not to mention the security risk–means that cashier’s cheques are the preferred method of paying “cash” for a car.

I paid for my current car with a personal check when I bought it from a dealership.

I paid for my current car with a personal cheque.

Due to the amount of the cheque (about $37,000) I thought they would wan’t a cashier’s cheque, but when I asked the guy said that he knew where I lived and if the cheque bounced they would just come and get the car, which seemed fair enough.

Same here. It was accepted without question or delay, and the dealership deposited it the next business day.

I bought a (used) car for cash using a cashier’s cheque.

I used to sell cars, ten years ago or so. Once in awhile we’d sell them for cash outright… big purchases too… $30-40k trucks and whatnot. I’d say payment was split evenly between cashiers checks and personal checks. With personal checks we’d call the bank to verify funds and let them take the vehicle home that day.

One time an older couple came in and bought a $15,000 car. Said they’d pay cash so I expected a check. Instead they pulled out a duffel bag full of money, like something you’d see used for a kidnapping ransom.

My little brother has purchased several new cars with cash. He goes in knowing exactly what the best deal he thinks he can get will be. He brings the cash in a brown paper bag (for effect). Then He offers the amount in the bag for the car. He explains that he wants to drive the car home in thirty minutes or less, and he is not willing to consider counter offers.

Anything other than agreement from the car dealership, and he walks his business to the competition. I could never do it, but he has done fine.

Just a thought - but if you do call ahead to tell them you need a copy of the final total so you could get a cashier’s check - it might help you spot in advance any additional “fees” they might try to tack on at the end.

And if they accidentally leave them off, it will give you a bargaining chip for not trying to add something at the last minute. (You can take the cashier’s check for the amount you told me, or I can walk away).

I’ve always just used personal checks with no problems at all. Go ahead and check with them to be sure. Congrats on your new wheels! My daughter loved her New Beetle!

We paid for my car with two personal checks. My parents were helping me pay for it, so Dad brought a check he’d printed on the computer, and I brought a personal check and wrote it out for the exact amount remaining.

I was surprised that the car dealership seemed more trusting than the Grocery store given the relative sums of money, but, in retrospect, despite our jokes about cars depreciating as soon as you drive them off the lots, if they had to come reposess it, the car would most likely have retained more of its value than food does.

I’ve used a personal check. They have all that paperwork on the vehicle they sell you so it’s not like they don’t know details about you. However you should just ask the business what ways they take payment and assume nothing.

Oh, I wanna pay in pennies! :slight_smile:

I think I will plan on personal check, and if they demand a cashier’s check, my bank is across the street.

I don’t want to call in advance because I am hoping to negotiate the price with the assumption of financing (she hasn’t asked), then pull out a checkbook. Don’t know if that will work, as the salesperson is obviously much more skilled at this than I am.

I bought a used car from a dealer and used a personal check that was certified.

If you have it in 100’s, $15,000 in cash will fit into a back pocket with no problem at all…

A friend of mine put his new Honda Valkyrie on his AmEx. Got bonus points like a motherfucker.

I think paying cash for any amount over $10,000 entails filling out some Federal forms aimed at reporting/discouraging potential money laundering, doesn’t it?

I negotiated the price for our current car as a 1 year old used car. We had agreed on the price and asked how I wanted to pay and I pulled out my Visa card. He turned it down because he had to pay a 2% commission to Visa. I ended up paying with a personal cheque. I don’t recall if I had to write the Visa number on the back :rolleyes:.

I discovered later that the Visa merchant agreement doesn’t allow (p. 9 PDF)the merchant to deny payment with the card.

Had I known that, I would have called Visa to inquire.

I paid with a Discover card, got a huge rebate. Just sent the personal check to Discover. I’ve heard of using a mileage card and getting free trips.